Another wet and windy weekend with 10 Tors

I was up on the Moor over the weekend helping look after 9 teams of 10 Tors participants from the National Trust Wild Tribe and Torquay Boys Grammar School. Saturday saw some of the worst and most challenging conditions I have witnessed on Dartmoor – persistent driving rain, a strong wind and very poor visibility. As a  result – very few photographs …..

This is the Trig Point – on Ryders Hill – the highest point on the south moor – it was bleak and unpleasant on Saturday – Pete and I were on our way to Red Lake tip to check point 7 teams through


This is a photo of Red Lake tip taken in 2015 (it is the conical man made peak in the middle ground) – on Saturday we could only see it when we were 200m from it – a day of navigation by compass – which Pete did very expertly all day.


Here are a couple of our groups at Red Lake ……

We eventually saw all seven groups through by 5pm and then started on our 90 minute walk back to our O Brook campsite – all the teams were in camp by 7pm

This is the O Brook on a sunny day!


Sunday we were check pointing at various places – including Norsworthy Bridge – a much better day but still misty in places and very windy


This is Sharpitor where we ended our walks

Very challenging conditions – well done to all the young people who took part over the weekend – if you can walk and navigate in those conditions you have cracked it!

Dartmoor was character building over the weekend and undoubtedly the moor build some new characters.

A rainy weekend on the Moor

Our first two day walk with an overnight camp of the year with the National Trust’s Wild Tribe teams and those from Torquay Boys Grammar School …..

rain
This was the view when I arrived at the car park – only a mile walk to our wild camping site but nevertheless…

camp
At the back of Foggintor Quarry – at least it stopped raining for a few minutes whilst I got my tent up – it then rained all night –  a mixture of wind blown drizzle and heavy rain – I was soaked as was the inside of my tent by 6.30pm – a long night ahead. Apparently this was Storm Ewan but I didn’t know that at the time!

Teams started leaving camp at 4.30am

In view of the continuing poor weather and the forecast predicting more heavy rain from 3pm we convened a meeting in the Fox Tor Cafe at 8am to review routes.

Our teams were intending to go from the Princetown area through the centre of the high moor right up to Okehampton camp via Great Knesset i.e. a route which was a long way from anywhere hospitable.

We re-routed all the teams up the west side of the moor closer to roads in case anything went wrong and decided to end at 3pm at Meldon instead of 5pm at Anthony Stile.

tavy
This is the Tavy – despite all the rain flowing low

great-nodden
We went up to Nodden Gate to checkpoint some teams through – the dome of Great Nodden in the background.

Most of Dartmoor is made of of granite which is an igneous rock formed from molten lava – in contrast Great Nodden consists of metamorphic rock (i.e. older rocks which have been transformed by heat or pressure or both) – thus its very different shape

lyd
The River Lyd

brat-tor
The Lyd with Brat Tor and the Widgery Cross to the left

lyd-stepping-stones
Somewhat surprisingly – very low water levels at the Lyd Stepping Stones

Safely back at Meldon just as the 3pm rain arrives

A big well done to all the young people (and the team of adult leaders) who made it to the end – a character building weekend

All my kit bar my tent is now dry – my tent will be by the end of the day

10 Tors 2016 – congratulations and respect

Another amazing 10 Tors weekend has come and gone. Here are some photographs of the teams that I have helped train and manage finishing their weekend of walking.

WT 35 4This is the National Trust Wild Tribe 35 mile Team approaching the finish

Wild Tribe 35 2It is just after 9am on Sunday morning – they are the 3rd team in overall (out of 400) just 12 minutes behind the first team Torquay Scouts

Wild Tribe 35 3
What an achievement – congratulations to all involved

Wild Tribe 45 1
Here come the National Trust Wild Tribe 45 mile team – it is around 10am – they are the third 45 mile team in!

Wild Tribe 45 2
Taking the ‘Wild’ theme very seriously – from zebras to apes, penguins, frogs and …. I’m not sure what the 5th right is?

Wild Tribe 45 3
Absolutely brilliant

WT 55 1
Here comes the National Trust Wild Tribe 55 mile team – in at 11.45am – the 3rd 55 mile team in! A theme has emerged …

WT 55 2
Still smiling after all those miles

WT 55 3
A team photo at the finish with Tony Owen who has helped the National Trust and the young people make this happen

WT 55 4
I managed to get to their medal ceremony. In previous years we have been waiting for our 55 mile teams to come in at 4pm and even 5pm! To get in before midday is an awesome achievement.

WT 55 5
A photograph of the 55 milers at 6.15am on Saturday – just before we all head to the start – do I see apprehension as well as excitement?

TBGS 35B 1
The National Trust Wild Tribe teams work and train hand in glove with Torquay Boys Grammar School. Without the support, encouragement and very hard work of Dr Roy Colville and the school generally, the NT couldn’t do 10 Tors. Here come the TBGS 35 mile A team approaching the finish.

TBGS 35B 2
Another amazing performance – in before 1pm. Sorry I missed the TBGS 35 mile B team as I was at the medal ceremony for the 55ers.

TBGS 45 1
Here come the TBGS 45 mile team – there are girls in the Sixth Form at TBGS and two of who are in this team – team in at 10.30am – a very impressive performance

For those of us who manage 10 Tors Teams the ‘weekend’ starts on Thursday and finishes on Sunday – I will tell some of the other stories of the entire weekend over the coming days in this blog.

Finally, huge congratulations to all the participants, thanks to the team of TBGS staff and volunteers, thanks to the staff and volunteers from the National Trust team on Dartmoor and thanks to the Army for organising it -it was very slick and well organised.

A very cold night and day

As part of our 10 Tors training, The National Trust Wild Tribe and Torquay Boys Grammar School teams, camped near Foggintor on Saturday night and then spent Sunday walking across the moor back to Okehampton camp.

It was so cold putting up tents on Saturday at dusk …. everyone was in their tents and sleeping bags by 8pm. It was one of those night when it seemed that you were awake all night – sleep seemed a luxury which was just out of reach. I was warm most of the night but when the wind got up and battered the tent you could feel a cold breath of air fill the tent and pivot the temperature towards the uncomfortable. I think everyone had similar experiences but fortunately nothing worse.

Foggintor
The first team had left camp by 6.30am and all were on their way by 7. We left camp at dawn in the shadow of the derelict mining building

BreakfastNext stop was Fox Tor Cafe for breakfast – a perk of the job if you are check pointing teams. From here we dropped off two of the team at Holming Beam to shadow various teams along their route.

Tavy CleaveNear Lane end – where we met a couple of teams – out of the wind with a glorious view over to Ger Tor and Tavy Cleave

We then made a detour back to Holming Beam to collect one of our 55ers who had fallen waist deep into a bog – it wasn’t a day for ‘bog falling’ as the wind chill on the high moor kept the temperature close to or below zero all day. Emergency plans worked perfectly – tents were erected, hot drinkers were made and our two ‘shadowers’ brought the now warmed up 55er back from Rough Tor.

Yes Tor
We now had a bit of time on our hands to we climbed Sourton Tor and got incredible views across to High Willhays, Yes Tor and West Mill Tor (note the peri-glacial ‘Thufur’ bumps in the foreground – I have written about these before – see here)

Check pointingThen out to Oke Tor from Rowtor (minibuses left at Okehampton Camp!!) – Pete, Mark and Tony scanning the horizon, checking texts and phoning teams – I just take the pictures ….

East MillThe sun beaming through the clouds over East Mill Tor (in the fore ground) with High Willhays in the distance

Winter TorAfter completing our  appointments with our teams we headed back to Rowtor – the sunlight catching the hillside above Cullever Steps – with Winter Tor on the right, Higher Tor in the middle and the start of Belstone Tor on the left.

Sunset-2

Back at Rowtor the sun was getting ready to set – we weren’t quite done yet as two teams were still ‘practicing’ their navigation skills …. best done in February rather than May but it meant they were a bit late back – all part of the fun and no harm done.

Well done to all the teams, leaders and helpers – it was a challenging couple of days thanks to the weather but that to be honest is all part of the 10 Tors’ tale. Wonder what weather we will get the next time we are out?

10 Tors training in the rain and wind Feb 16 – a day to remember

After my post yesterday morning (which I wrote Friday evening) I was rather apprehensive about embarking on a 10 Tors expedition on Saturday.

Amber
The weather had worsened over night and on Saturday morning we had an Amber warming of rain over Dartmoor and Devon.

As Team Managers and Leaders (Torquay Boys Grammar School and National Trust Wild Tribe) we had spent quite a lot of Friday evening discussing the situation and looking at options. We were clear that the Saturday walk route needed to be radically altered and shortened but there was real merit in testing the young people in trying conditions. Alternative routes were devised which would be safe but would be challenging – a key 10 Tor principle.

 


Upon arriving at Meldon Car park this was the scene over the cattle grid.


And this was the runoff – it was raining cats and dogs….

WaterfallVarious teams set off on their revised similar routes – here is the scene looking up at Homerton Hill on the south bank of Meldon reservoir – there isn’t normally a waterfall there!

Into Meldon
And the flow into the reservoir is nearly overwhelming the bridge

These photos show the scale of the rain – but give not idea who windy it was – at this point we were heading into the wind which was unpleasant as the rain was stinging on our faces – walking with the wind was pretty challenging as it nearly blew us over and on a few occasions actually did!

SaturatedA pow wow at Vellake Corner where we decided to change the routes again – super-saturated peat!


Here is the West Okement thundering down the Valley – note you can’t get to the beginning of the bridge!

We finished our day out at 2pm at the Dartmoor Inn near Lydford. This is what 10 Tors is all about – it teaches young people resilience, endurance, leadership, tenacity, a love of Dartmoor(!!) and a sense of achievement.

In case you think we have been cavalier yesterday- let me give you the stats – we had approaching 50 young people walking today – along with 11 adult supervisors and 4 young people who have already completed 55 mile 10 Tors. Of the 11 adults 4 are qualified Moorland Leaders, one was a former senior officer in the Royal Marines, another is a serving Police Officer and one is a member of the Dartmoor Rescue Service. We don’t do this lightly.

Being there when Dartmoor is extreme is a privilege and something I wouldn’t want to miss – a day to remember.

National Trust Wild Tribe 55 milers meet the Brigadier

Was just sent this photo by the Army of the National Trust Wild Tribe 55 mile team somewhere on Dartmoor over the weekend with a Lynx helicopter and Brigadier Jez Bennett.

Wild Tribe 55

The Brigadier sent the following message

Hi guys,
I thought I would send you the picture we had taken on Sunday when I
dropped in on you!
Many congratulations on all your efforts.

Brigadier Jez Bennett

10 Tors 2015

The weekend has seen the 10 Tors Challenge run again – the National Trust had three teams in the event and has helped Torquay Boys Grammar School with another four. I am pleased to say all seven teams completed the challenge each returning home with a full complement of six young people.

Here are a few of my pictures from the weekend. For a fuller set of pictures see here.

The Start 3 The start of the 10 Tors Challenge sees around 400 teams each consisting of 6 young people depart, either on a 35, 45 or 55 mile route

 

 

WT 35 StartThis is the National Trust Wild Tribe 35 mile team before the start at base camp

WT 45 StartThis is the National Trust Wild Tribe 45 mile team before the start at base camp

 

WT 35 Finish_This is the 35 mile team at the finish

WT 45 FinishThis is the 45 mile team coming in

WT 55 Finish 2This is the 55 mile team at the finish

WT 55 Finish 5And here they are collecting their medals

As ever a brilliant event – very well organised by the Army. Thank you to Torquay Boys Grammar School for allowing the National Trust to join in and train with them. Thanks in particular also to Dr Roy Colville who spends hours and hours ensuring everything is in place for his school and the NT and to Tony Owen for helping Pete Davies (our Ranger in the Plym Valley) and I run the National Trust Wild Tribe.

Finally congratulations to all the young people who worked with us this year and completed the Challenge it is a no mean feat! I hope you have all come out of it feeling very proud.